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Streaming Media West '15: A Closer Look at the Epiphan Pearl and SDI2USB

[This sponsored interview was conducted at Streaming Media West 2015.]

Tim Siglin: Welcome back to Almost Live, Streaming Media West 2015, I'm here today with Dave Kirk who's the VP of Product Marketing for Epiphan, a company that makes encoders both large and small. Dave, tell me about the company and tell me about the products.

Dave Kirk: The company started about 12 years ago. We started with very simple capture modules and we built up the company from there. We started with a VGA-to-USB tube product that really was just bringing in VGA into USB to capture it on a laptop, stream and record it. It wasn't really streaming back then, it was more sharing across a network, not formal streaming, but there was the capability to remotely see these devices. That's where the company started and then from there we developed more sophisticated products that were doing recording and streaming and live production and that sort of thing.

Tim Siglin: Fast forward to now, you've got a really small unit in your hand.

Dave Kirk: This little unit is one of our latest ones we just announced this a couple weeks ago, it's called the AV.io SDI and the whole idea here is you've got an SDI port on one side, USB on the other. It is USB 3, so you connect your SDI device here, it could be a mixer, it could be a camera, whatever, you're bringing that in and then over USB into your laptop you get uncompressed, beautiful data that you can use with any third party software. If you're using something like Wirecast or Adobe FMLE to do your streaming right from your laptop, then these little modules just help you to bring in those high quality sources.

Tim Siglin: Is it 3G SDI or 6G?

Dave Kirk: This one's 3G so it'll do 1080p60.

Tim Siglin: I'm assuming it doesn't do any compressions so if it's 422 through from the SDI it'll continue through that way directly into the computer.

Dave Kirk: Exactly.

Tim Siglin: Then you brought a bigger unit.

Dave Kirk: As I mentioned, we started with these little guys and then eventually we moved into full sort of recording and streaming systems. These are meant to connect into a laptop and then you're running software on that, effectively, this is the laptop, the grabbers, the software, everything all mixed into one little tidy box. The idea is that it's a nice portable system, you just come in, you can plug in your inputs here, we got SDI ports, HDMI ports, VGA ports and analog.

Tim Siglin: How many total inputs can somebody use?

Dave Kirk: You can do four HD screens at a time.

Tim Siglin: Okay.

Dave Kirk: You can bring those in, and mix them and you create these custom layouts so you can have three sources, two sources and then you can switch between those in a live production scenario. As long as you do a little bit of live switching, streaming and recording at the same time and you can record your ISO on the cameras or stuff that's coming in as well as your program feed, so it's a handy little box.

Tim Siglin: What kind of ballpark price between the AV.io that you have there?

Dave Kirk: This one's $380, US.

Tim Siglin: Okay.

Dave Kirk: The Pearl is $4875.

Tim Siglin: This comes with a shipping case and a power supply, it's a very cute little unit, very self-contained. For the grabbers, do you have an HDMI version of it or it's just the SDI?

Dave Kirk: We've got a whole line of these grabbers but in the AV.io side which is our USB-based one, you don't need any drivers, you just plug it into any machine. We've got and HDMI version which can take in HDMI, DVI or VGA and then we've got the SDI version as a brother to that.

Tim Siglin: Do people who buy one of these need some form of certification to know that it works with Wirecast or works with some other piece of encoding software?

Dave Kirk: There's not any formal certification but we do list technology partners on our website. Certainly, Telestream is one of them, vMix is another, so there are a bunch of different companies that we've tested with and they've tested our stuff and we continue to do that. Because it's using USB drivers it should work with just about anything, so whether it's Skype or GoToMeeting or one of these live streaming applications, it should just present whatever you plug in here to the software as a webcam.

Tim Siglin: That is a matter of fact, here in the booth, we are using two of these plugged in by USB into a laptop to Wirecast so that we can do live recording, we have the cameras recording themselves independently and then we, of course, have the laptop itself recording a mix then which is a really nice feature if you're using Wirecast. What other products do you all have or are these the primary products?

Dave Kirk: This is an example of our line of products. We've got a whole range of different grabbers that we have. Some are PCIe-based, some are USB 3-based, and then on the recording and streaming side, we've got a little brother to the Pearl that's just a single stream. Pearl's meant to do four inputs and output four streams and all that. The Pearl’s little brother is just a simple unit—you set up a picture-in-picture, stream it out live, and record it. Then we've got a big brother to the Pearl that we call the VGA Grid which is a 4U rackmount server size one with a whole lot more inputs but the same kind of functionality.

Tim Siglin: With the server version, the 4U, does that have an external control that somebody uses to actually do the switching back and forth between?

Dave Kirk: It's all web-based so there's a web UI built into the product so you can just connect over ethernet using any browser come in and you just get a web UI, allows you to do all the set up and configuration and switching.

Tim Siglin: What's one thing that you would want Streaming Media West attendees or those watching this to actually know about the company?

Dave Kirk: I would say the company's growing very, very quickly. We're not as well-known as some of the bigger names that come from the broadcast side of things. We come more from the industrial side of things. We serve a lot of different verticals whether it's medical, education, live production, industrial so we've served a lot of those individual verticals. The one that's growing fastest for us right now is the live production space and live streaming and so that's going to be a huge market for us going forward.

Tim Siglin: Once again, this has been Dave Kirk and he's the VP of Product Marketing at Epiphan. We appreciate your time and Dave, I think these are really interesting products, products size is great, especially for the AV.io, the Pearl looks fantastic. Once again, Almost Live from Streaming Media West.

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